Death Toll from Pakistan Suicide Attack Reaches 32

Posted February 18th, 2012 at 3:20 pm (UTC-5)
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Officials in northwestern Pakistan said Saturday the death toll from a suicide bombing in a busy market in Kurram tribal agency has risen to at least 32 people.

The officials said a suicide bomber on a motorcycle detonated his explosives near a busy market in the town of Parachinar around the time of Friday prayers. The blast also wounded more than 60 people and destroyed several shops. Local reports say the bombing targeted Shi'ite Muslims.

Locals said police later shot and killed at least three more people who took to the street to protest the attack. A curfew has been imposed on the town near the Afghan border to prevent more protests.

A local Taliban splinter group claimed responsibility for the attack, according to Fazal Saeed, who said he was the group's leader. Speaking to reporters by telephone, he said the attack was retaliation for Shi'ite attacks on Sunni Muslims in the area.

The Kurram tribal agency is home to a sizable Shi'ite population in a country dominated by Sunni Muslims. The area has been the scene of suicide attacks and other sectarian violence, mostly engineered by Sunni militants, including the Taliban and al-Qaida.

In nearby Khyber tribal region, security officials say Pakistani troops killed 17 pro-Taliban militants Friday in a joint operation with a government-backed local militia. One soldier and three militiamen were also reported to have died in the operation, which targeted a local Taliban group known as Lashkar-e-Islam.